Monday, February 13, 2012

Adoption complete!

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
-Emma Lazarus

It's official! Papa is a bona fide US Citizen. See? Here he is walking through 'the golden door'...
(close up detail of said Golden Door ;)
What a great, great day this was. It started out in the dark early wee hours driving for an hour through a snow storm, which changed to rain showers by the time we reached the valley, to partially overcast skies (which made driving the next 2.5 hours way easy on the eyes), and ending up with intermittent sunshine and incredible cloud & color displays for the drive home... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The end of the Naturalization journey was near. Feeling so wrung-out after the months of researching and acquiring old documents, hours of studying, worrying about passing the interview, driving so far and navigating unknown cities..well, we seriously wondered where we'd get the mental, physical, & emotional energy to turn around and make another long trip just a few short days later. And watching the weather never waver from the predicted upcoming winter storm, for the night before and day of, wasn't helping.

Consequently we were both extremely surprised and pleased that the day only got better and better after this morning's drive over the snowy mountain.

Knowing that we had successfully navigated the critical application, appointments, correct documents, and testing stages lightened the feeling. We realized today was going to be a joyful culmination of all the efforts we'd both put into the goal!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' [they] chortled in [their] joy....
(Lewis Carroll, doncha know ;)

Heading south, somewhere between Williams and Woodland, I saw, ahead in the sky, what I thought was the silhouette of a raven. As the bird sailed on the breeze above us Papa says, "Hey! I think that's a bald eagle". And sure enough, there was the white head and tail and powerful outstretched wings of the nation's symbolic icon soaring right past us leading on towards Sacramento!

After arriving in the big city, and getting settled in a parking garage, we hiked the several blocks to the USCIS building. Waiting in the Citizen's Oath room we reconnected with several of the applicants (& their family & friends) that we'd been along with on this paper-journey.

Particularly heart-rending were the stories we heard from Chaum (sounds like 'charm' w/o the 'r') who, along with her husband, has been helping their fellow Cambodian friends and family towards naturalization.

She spotted us when we came in today and came over to visit again in her beautifully accented soft voice. She'd been 4yrs old when her mother, an architect in their native land, had to run from the Khmer Rouge atrocities; changing their names, losing family members, becoming refugees in Thailand, and eventually coming to America and becoming citizens years ago.

We'd also made friends with a couple from Anderson. She was from the Philippines. And then there was the gal from Russia, a young guy from Ukraine, a middle-aged man from Denmark, several folks from India, Mexico, 2 from Canada (including Papa ;), and one from the Ivory Coast. I can't even remember all the places around the world the rest of the group were from.

The Federal employees (2 men/2 women) who directed the program were impressive. Their short speeches were so personal and heartfelt you'd never suspect they do this every day as a part of their job. They asked for a volunteer from all the immigrants to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The gentleman who raised his hand was from Sierra Leon and had the most rich, beautiful voice.

As one of the speakers stated so eloquently with a most sincere smile (he smiled the whole time, in fact),"..what an awesome degree of diversity we have here today!"

The MC (a woman whose great-grandfather had come from Denmark) was so welcoming. She reminded us that America is a land of immigrants, and how much we need the vital intelligence and experiences they bring to their new country in order to grow and prosper.

Well... I could go on and on. But I won't. Just know that it was a moving experience, one I wish you kids could have been with us for. After multitudes of hand shakes, hugs, and 'Congratulations' were given over and over, we made our way back to the car, had a bit of our picnic lunch, grabbed the camera and hiked back for some shots up at the Capitol building.

I particularly liked the flowering trees along the avenue. Made me think of Abby and Richard over in Hawaii now where flowering trees will be the norm. After traveling through the snow storm this morning the temperate climate, flowers and greenery were really fun to be around:

Walking up to the front entrance Papa discovered 3 embossed seals embedded in the concrete:

All the statuary in, on, and outside the buildings was spectacular:

And look at all the beautifully crafted woodwork and architectural designs. Be sure to enlarge them.. it's a feast for the eyes:

One more incredible part of the day; we were driving home..and as I mentioned at the start of this entry, the shape & color of the clouds and lighting of the passing scenery were gorgeous.

Well, we're heading up I-5, just after Cottonwood, when Papa spots a big ol' bright rainbow off to the East. Suddenly it becomes a complete, and huge, double rainbow! The biggest and brightest either of us have ever seen..and the end of the rainbow is traveling right on top of our car's hood! It was soo spectacular that ALL the northbound cars on the freeway slowed dramatically (and some pulled off) to watch the phenomenal event.
(this isn't the one. just added it for dramatic effect..ours was even wider & brighter top & bottom!)
So, do ya think we had an absolutely GRAND day? ohh ya!


  1. CONGRATULATIONS PAPA!!!!! Good posting Mama! And good photography too! making my little architect heart happy. I'll have to blow them up once I get a better internet connection.

    1. Thanks #1 daughter. Wouldn't it be cool to design and build something as big and ornate as that capital?